How this 31-year-old tech worker built a community to help her peers bounce back from layoffs
The last two years have posed several challenges for U.S. workers. The coronavirus pandemic shook the corporate world, with millions of professionals still out of work due to long Covid. Recent tech layoffs have also shaken professionals nationwide.
These circumstances have left many Americans unsure about the future of their careers – but Fana Yohannes is dedicated to changing that.
Through her Instagram account, Here2Help, Yohannes is providing access to mentorship, networking opportunities, and resume advice to over 4,000 followers. She launched Here2Help in May 2020 as a response to the surge of layoffs caused by the pandemic. The platform went on hiatus after the job market began to stabilize in 2021, but has since relaunched.
Yohannes, 31, also works in tech as a communications lead at Meta – and after seeing the company lay off over 11,000 of its workers, she was determined to help them bounce back.
"I felt a lot of uncertainty with the tech layoffs that have been happening. [The Here2Help relaunch] started with a conversation that I had with a friend over at Twitter and I was just getting a sense of what people need right now," Yohannes tells CNBC Make It.
"I see all these LinkedIn posts saying my job was affected or describing the awful layoff process that suddenly impacted so many people. And then it kind of came to me … if people are looking for job leads, resume advice, or tips on how to rebuild, we already did this before."
Here's how her Instagram community works, how Yohannes is balancing it with her full time role and her advice for workers currently navigating layoffs:
How it works
Getting mentorship and career advice on the Here2Help platform is a process that's largely facilitated by mentees.
"Each week we'll drop a round of office hours and feature mentors on our stories whose DMs are open and ready to help you," Yohannes said in an Instagram highlight. "You DM mentors directly. Tap through all of the stories first, and pick your top 3 mentors. Then, slide into their DMs with a strong intro."
The platform relies heavily on community members coming together with a common goal of empowering people in the workforce navigating their next steps.
"We had these mentees who were looking for work in 2020, who now have credible work and have been in their positions for over a year now. And they've now come back as mentors, so there's this kind of 'pay it forward' momentum happening."
In addition to mentorship, volunteers for Here2Help offer resume writing and rebranding services, networking tips and tricks and even mental health support.
"The magic of this program works because we're all in this together," Yohannes said in an Instagram post. "If we leverage this space to its full potential, we have the opportunity to help everyone win and rebuild in a time of uncertainty."
Efficiency is key
Founding a career support community while still fulfilling your duties in your 9-5 is a hard task, but Yohannes is navigating it by "optimizing efficiency."
"I'm all about creating efficient processes. For example, I'm able to onboard so many mentors and mentees because I'm very precise in the directions that I'm writing in a post. Or I leverage tools like Google Forms to do intake and stay organized. And that helps me be more productive."
As a next-gen trends, culture and lifestyle communications lead at Instagram, Yohannes is also able to use the knowledge and skills she exercises on Here2Help for her full-time job as well.
"I'm really fortunate to have these kinds of interests intersect," she says. "All of the learnings that I'm able to see from Here2Help as it comes from being a social media manager, I'm able to apply it to my day-to-day job."
"I just love learning and growing and I think Here2Help for me has been a really great way to evolve not only from a creative standpoint, but also from a management standpoint. I love being there as a supportive manager or mentor to all the mentors who are signing up or even the mentees who are a part of our program, so it's really fulfilling and enriching."
'Step back and let everything sink in'
Career setbacks can be a huge blow to one's confidence, and for those currently navigating layoffs, Yohannes recommends giving yourself grace and taking the time to analyze the bigger picture.
"It's really important to just take a step back and let everything sink in, because I know it can feel like a surreal experience," she says. "Take a week or two to kind of mourn or just be frustrated by the outcome of what just happened to you. But also I think [there comes a time when] you have to reframe and rethink the situation."
"This moment in time doesn't define who you are, but it will define who you are becoming because in any given situation, especially with a layoff, although it hurts, receiving this as a redirection versus a setback is what's probably going to be most helpful for people."
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